Kia mulling hybrids for India 

1.2-litre petrol- and 1.5-litre petrol-electric hybrids likely.

Autocar Pro News Desk By Autocar Pro News Desk calendar 19 Dec 2023 Views icon3485 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Kia mulling hybrids for India 

Having already made its foray into the all-electric space, Kia Motors India is now actively looking at bringing hybrid products to its line-up. While some details, such as the technical specifications and which models will be powered by hybrids, are scarce, the company has confirmed that it is actively considering the introduction of hybrid tech in India.

 

Speaking to Autocar India, Tae-Jin Park, MD and CEO, Kia India, said about the introduction of its hybrid offerings, “I think there is some possibility (for hybrids) and we are looking for some opportunity to introduce our new technology of the hybrid that could replace diesel.” However, he did reiterate that diesel demand is still strong and accounts for 40 percent of total sales and that Kia would continue selling diesels as long as regulations allow.

Sources tell us that Kia is working on electrifying its existing 1.2-litre and 1.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol units for the Indian market. The Korean brand does have strong hybrids on sale in international markets – models such as the recently showcased new Carnival MPV, the K8 sedan, the Niro crossover, and the Sorento and Sportage SUVs all have a 1.6-litre direct-injection turbo-petrol engine paired with an electric motor that derives power from a relatively small battery pack.

As such, the same technology used in those international models needs to trickle down in a way that can be cost efficient – localisation of motor components and battery tech will be essential to keep costs in check. Considering the size of the engines being considered for hybridisation, these new powertrains could potentially find their way into the likes of the Seltos midsize SUV, the Carens MPV and a future sub four-metre model.

Kia’s entry into the hybrid market should open up another segment for the brand – the Korean company already offers a varied selection of engine and transmission options across its portfolio – and an additional option for buyers. Interestingly, the timing seems to be apt; monthly sales of hybrid vehicles in India have recently overtaken EV sales, despite a relative lack of models to choose from.

From September to November 2023 period, sales of strong hybrid vehicles totalled 24,026 units, compared to 21,445 EVs sold in the same duration, which suggests the ‘tipping point’ where hybrids consistently outsell EVs has been reached. And that’s despite the current crop of mid-size hybrids which attract a much higher GST rate of 43 percent, compared to the 5 percent for EVs. The upcoming Kia compact SUV sporting a 1.2-litre hybrid powertrain will make it eligible for lower 28 percent tax bracket for sub-four-metre cars, which should narrow gap the price gap with EVs.

The introduction of a new Kia compact SUV (codenamed: AY), which will slot between the Sonet and the Seltos, could be the first strong hybrid Kia model when it is launched in early 2025. Sister brand, Hyundai, too is likely to share the same powertrain for its future SUVs.

Also see:

Kia Sonet facelift makes global debut 

Kia Seltos facelift video review 

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